Principal of Regnum Solicitors, London
I developed an interest in justice and equality while young, perhaps due to the fact that I started working at an early age in Istanbul and have seen a fair amount of injustice in workplaces.
Having an opportunity to study and train in law both in Istanbul and London enabled me to have the best preparation for providing a niche service in the Anglo-Turkish legal market.
After practising in Turkey I found myself a student in London again, when I decided to retrain and qualify as a solicitor in England. I am the first Turkish-Engish dual-qualified lawyer in this country.
A good lawyer has the ability to explain difficult cross-jurisdictional issues to clients. This enables clients to make sense of the differences between legal rules and practices in different jurisdictions.
In the UK, I find lawyers less approachable but more specialised in their chosen subject and practice area, with almost no interest in and knowledge of any other areas of law. In Turkey, lawyers are very approachable with less specialised knowledge, but have the attitude of wanting to learn and to serve their clients in the areas that they are not specialised in. There is a cultural difference between Turkey and England. In Turkey, if you are a lawyer, you are expected to know everything about law. It is not acceptable to say that you don’t know or practise certain areas of law.
Turkish clients are very impressed as soon as they hear of my qualification as a practising English solicitor with an associate office in Istanbul.
Having practised in a jurisdiction where there is no distinction between barrister and solicitor, initially I found it very difficult to pass the pleasure of advocacy to barristers. But I have come to understand and appreciate the importance of delegating advocacy to a specialist, without fear of losing your client to another lawyer.
In Turkey and England, we get more than three job applications a week. The applicants all appear to be well trained at law schools and have fantastic interpersonal skills. Unlike the UK, in Turkey a lawyer immediately upon obtaining a practising certificate can set up their own sole practice and work from home. This creates job opportunities for young lawyers.
Mehmet Ali Erdogan is principal of Regnum Solicitors, London